if your tire valve stem is leaking, you have several options for replacement. determining what’s best depends on where the valve stem is leaking. if you don’t know how to replace a tire valve stem, you might wonder if it can be done without removing the tire.
in this guide, we cover all of the steps, so you can avoid a trip to the tire shop. we also discuss when you can use the valve core tool to make the process even easier.
can you replace a tire valve stem without removing the tire?
yes, you can replace a tire valve stem without removing the tire from the rim. however, you must deflate the tire and separate the tire bead from the rim on the side where the tire valve stem is located. it can be a bit tricky but is definitely doable.
if the air is leaking out of the core of the valve stem, you have a much easier fix. spray a soapy solution on the valve stem to see where it is leaking. if the air bubbles come from within the core itself, you can get a valve core replacement tool and a new part without spending a lot of money.
jack up the appropriate wheel and remove the old core using the tool you purchased. once it is out, you can easily screw in a new core. just don’t screw it in too tightly or the threads could become stripped. refill the tire with air and give it another go.
the process is a little more difficult if you need to replace the tire valve stem. many people prefer to take the vehicle to the tire shop for a professional replacement. however, you could do it yourself with the right tools and expertise.
where is the tire valve stem located?
the tire valve stem is found in the wheel of the vehicle. it’s the valve where the tires get inflated. inside the valve stem, there’s a valve core that’s spring-loaded utlizing the pressure from within the tire to seal itself. on the valve stem, there is a cap that keeps the debris and dirt from getting inside. this cap doesn’t help to keep the air in but is needed to keep the core and stem in good condition.
as the valve stem gets older, it can become brittle or crack. these problems lead to leaking, making it difficult to keep the proper amount of air inside the tire. depending on how bad the situation is, the leak could be slow or fast. either way, you will need to replace the core or the entire valve stem.
related: do tires lose air if the air tire valve cap is missing?
how to replace a tire valve stem without removing the tire
1. gather materials
to complete any automotive job, it’s important to have all of your tools handy. you don’t want to be searching around to find what you need. for most cases, these are the tools you should have on hand:
- air compressor/hose (optional)
- lug nut wrench
- jack stands
- tire iron
- needle nose pliers (optional)
- valve stem removal tool (optional)
2. loosen lug nuts
to work on the tire, you will first want to loosen up the lug nuts. it’s not time to take them off yet.
you only need to loosen them up on the tire you plan to work on. with your lug nut wrench, turn them all slightly so the job is easier later on.
related: how to remove a stuck or stripped lug nut
3. jack up car
make sure the vehicle is parked on level ground. you also want to set the parking brake and possibly put wheel chocks down on the tires, which will remain on the ground.
carefully raise your vehicle up enough to get the tire off. you can set the vehicle on sturdy jack stands to complete the rest of the job.
4. remove wheel
you loosened the lug nuts earlier, making it easy to get the wheel off now. take the wheel off that needs work.
set it down on a flat surface. make sure the outside part of the wheel remains facing up. also, put the lug nuts in a safe location, so none of them get lost.
related: how to remove a stuck wheel on your car (5 easy steps)
5. deflate tire
it’s time to let all of the air out of the tire. to do this, start by taking the cap off of the valve stem.
with your valve stem removal tool, take out the core. once this is completed, the air will freely flow out from the tire.
6. separate tire bead
to replace the valve stem, you must separate the bead from the tire. you can use a tire iron and sledgehammer to accomplish this task.
while you pry the tire apart, hit the sidewall with the sledgehammer. continue working in the same area until the bead breaks. it should make a popping or cracking sound once it is accomplished. also, the inner lip of the tire will become visible.
with the bead broken, you want to keep moving around the tire. perform the same movements until the entire bead is broken around the tire.
only remove the bead on the side where the stem is located, if you remove both sides and rotate the tire by mistake you have to rebalance the wheel.
related: 5 symptoms of unbalanced tires (& tire balancing cost)
7. remove valve stem
lift up the tire lip away from the wheel. you can use your tire iron to pry it upward and pull the lip over the wheel edge. you can do this to take the tire off of the rim, although some people successfully skip this step.
with your needle nose pliers, you can remove the valve. pull it away from the wheel to remove it. you can sometimes also use a knife and cut it to remove it easily, however, be careful so the cut part doesn’t stay inside the tire.
8. install new valve stem
find your replacement valve stem. install it into the wheel from the inside.
you will need to use your needle nose pliers to pull it through. make sure it is properly seated and use some kind of lubricant to install it more easily because you don’t want to deal with any more leaks once the job is done.
9. reinstall/inflate tire
inflate your tire to the appropriate pressure. you can find the recommended psi on the driver’s side door jamb. if the tire doesn’t want to inflate by itself: press the tire back over the rim until the bead clears the edge. work around the wheel while inflating the tire until the tire is properly seated.
if you rotated the tires on the wheel by mistake or installed a heavier or lighter tire valve stem, you have to rebalance the tires.
related: how to find the correct tire pressure for your car (4 steps)
10. check for leaks
before you mount the tire back on the vehicle, it’s best to check for leaks. use your spray bottle with the soapy solution and apply it all around the tire valve stem. if there are no air bubbles coming out, you are good to go.
reinstall the tire back on the vehicle. once the lug nuts are secure, you can lower the vehicle from the jack stands and put all of your equipment away.
replacement tire valve stem cost
if you can replace the valve stem yourself, it might only cost $5-$10. the process will take some of your time, which must be factored in.
on the other hand, if you choose to go to a tire shop for valve stem replacement, you might spend $25 or more. plus, you will have to wait for customers that arrived before you, so it could actually take longer to accomplish.